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Historical nights at Nassau Coliseum remembered as venue gets ready for makeover

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — There comes a time when all the great ones reflect on the past while the future is upon them.

For more than forty years, one Long Island legend has welcomed other legendary figures as they have dropped by for a visit.  There was that one night where a rhythm and blues singer from Mississippi made his presence known. Then another when a man named Evel was looking to do good on a motorcycle.  Meanwhile, there are many who cannot forget that particular night where a President who was never voted into office came by asking to get elected for the first time.

It does not take long to realize that this legendary place has seen this and so much more.  However, aside from their primary tenant a group of men who called a sheet of ice their office and went by the name of the Islanders, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was known for one thing, concerts.

David Bernstein did not waste any time in recounting his first show, "I saw Billy Joel, the summer of 1980 at the Nassau Coliseum. It was my first show ever. I was a very young teenager and we got dropped off and my father was picking us up and I was with three of my friends, Laura, Lewis and Howard and I said 'Ok the show is over lets go,' and they said 'No, nobody else is leaving!' I said, 'Yeah but my dad is waiting he is going to pick us up, we're going to be late.' I made them leave and of course I didn't know what an encore was and he came back and did more songs that we missed."

Bernstein has never left a concert early again since that night.

The 49-year-old is an avid concertgoer who helps run the famed Mr. Cheapo records in Mineola.  On Tuesday afternoon, he along with his colleague Christopher Hamilton reminisced about the Nassau Coliseum, hours before Billy Joel was to perform the last concert at the venue. Bernstein says it's simply time and technology dating what once contemporary and stellar, "A lot of our infrastructure in this country is so old it needs to be redone and that includes stadiums and venues like that."

Hamilton's first show was as a 10th grader in 1977, "It was Firefall opening, then it was Lynyrd Skynyrd, followed-up by The Doobie Brothers.

As a result of the surging popularity of one of the opening acts, the then 16-year-old Hamilton got an upgrade in seats, "I remember after Lynyrd Skynyrd finished and they stayed on longer than they were supposed to, I can imagine how that irked The Doobie Brothers, but when they left after they finished their encore half the audience got up and walked out and I was like, 'Oh my!' I ran right down to the floor and I got myself a front row seat for The Doobie Brothers."

As for his most most memorable show.  The 54-year-old says that one is in a class all by itself, "Pink Floyd without a doubt.  The Wall Show, hands down the greatest spectacle ever.  Nobody could do better than Pink Floyd, I am a huge Pink Floyd fan too," said Hamilton with the enthusiasm of a teenager.

For now the coliseum plans to close its doors for a period of time and get a makeover.  Bernstein and Hamilton both say they will miss the Nassau Coliseum they grew up with, however, both plan to go to shows at the new facility.  Hamilton though did offer up a request, "They should really take the time, take the extra expense to make the sound perfect, and then they'll have a nice long life and they can book anyone there and people will run to it."